Saturday, August 9, 2014

Going From 5 To 4

It's been about a week since our household has gone from 5 to 4. It certainly has been an adjustment for us all.......

A few months back, my oldest daughter asked to move to her Dad's house. This had been a day that I knew would eventually come and a day I had was NJ ot looking forward to. Having not grown up with my father, I understood her need to have a good relationship with her father and half-sisters as well. Speaking from experience, splitting time between family is very hard and can sometimes leave you drained emotionally. But it can also be hard on the households splitting the time, especially when younger children are involved. It can be hard to explain why someone is only around during at certain times of the year....and can be hard for little ones when they truly don't have a concept of time. My heart was heavy as I knew I had a big decision to make that would not only impact my home, but that could impact my daughter's relationship with me as well. I feared if I said no, she would resent me....that she would always wonder about what she would have had at her Dad's.  My first instinct was to just say no. I cried for several days not really grasping why she wanted to go.....until she told me. All I can say is that my heart sank!! I felt like as a mom, I had failed her in some way. That perhaps I had been to hard on her when she didn't clean her room, when she fought with her sister and I didn't take her side, when I didn't listen all those times she was trying so hard to tell me something. At 13 no teenager really likes their parents.....right? They're too nosy, too bossy, and nothing ever goes your way. And there's always too many rules. At least that's how I felt at 13. Now, as a parent I realize that wasn't ALWAYS the case.....but I get it. The part that has been hard for me to swallow is that she confided in her dad before really telling me she wanted to leave. My feelings were a little hurt that she didn't trust me enough to just ask me. I can't nor will I indulge in all the reasons why she wanted to move, but it has made me take a step back to examine my life and all the things that I need to improve about myself and as a mom.

After talking about it with a selected few, I knew deep down I had no real reason to say no to letting her go. I can honestly say that I know her dad takes great care of her and providing her with all of the things that she needs and wants.....that her step-mother cares for her and treats her as if she were her own. She's being sent to a great school with opportunities that she will never have living in our home state. My husband and I talked it over....and even thought he never said, I think he was leaving the final decision to me. So....I decided to let her go. Of course she was excited....and so was her dad.

The next few weeks were fairly peaceful as we packed up her favorite things. Our family took a vacation to the beach....which was a first for our two younger children. Following that, my daughter spent 2 weeks on vacation with hers dad's family. When she returned, she spent her time with her friends, seeing family, and in gymnastics. As time drew near....saying goodbye was one for the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Since she has left, our house hasn't quite been the same. My youngest daughter has kept to herself, never really coming out of her room much. I devoted time to her...taking her to her favorite places to lift her spirits. We prepared her for school and now that she is back in a routine, she seems more content. The first day of school was harder on me this year when I realized for the first time in 8 years, I had missed my (oldest) daughter's first day. You know those cheesy "first day of school" pictures that flood your Facebook wall? Instead of posting my own pictures of my children together, I was seeing her first day via Facebook. Thankfully, her stepmother has set up a group page to share "news", pictures, and daily activities.....so really I'm not missing all of the important things....I'm just watching it from a distance. And unless you've been in the same boat, it's really not the same. Family dinners even seem odd. My son's highchair has replaced the once empty chair that was at our table, but it never fails....each night he calls out his sister's name only to ask "Where's Katie?" when she fails to show up at the dinner table. He's only 2, but eventually he will get it.

As for the rest of us, we will adjust. In the meantime, we continue to keep busy and look forward to catching up through phone calls, text, and pictures. October can't get here fast enough!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Should kids get allowances?

As a family unit, we all have jobs to do. My husband and I both work to provide a roof over our kid's heads, to provide daily meals, and clothing and necessities.... and to pay for all of our extra curricular activities. Our children's job is to put away their belongings and help clean up small messes. Our older children are required to do more than our 22 month old (for obvious reasons), but we even teach him to put things back in their rightful place.

I'm not a fan or rewarding behavior that is expected, but at what point is offering an allowance to children okay? And how much should they get? What chores are appropriate for a 13 and 8 year old? I did find this list of age appropriate jobs and have thought giving our older children more responsibilities.....and here's the list just in case you need it for your household.

What's your take on an allowance? 


Friday, January 17, 2014

Connecting with your kids

I had a friend ask me about connecting with her son. Every situation is unique, but here's my advice:

First...kids love attention ! Make sure it's positive. I'll be the first to admit I harp on the little things and remind myself to praise any good behavior whether it's with a "thank you" or a "job well done". Hugs go a long way, too!

Second: Make time. Sure...we're all busy. We work,  make dinner, clean  house....but drop the dish rag and mop long enough to ask about their day. The best time to do this is around the dinner table.  No need to get fancy. Even if fast food is on the menu,  let everyone share their day's details without interruption. This brings me to #3...

Third: Make sure you're paying attention!  In today's world it's tempting to check status updates and the latest tweets, but offer up your time without distraction. No one likes being put on hold....even when they're not on the phone. Going back to the dinner table...make sure phones and other devices are left out of hands reach. Although this is a rule we're still working on at our house, make it a mandatory rule: no gadgets (of any kind) at the table!!

Fourth: Find a common interest.  Whether your child likes board games, coloring,  or sports, find something you can do together.  If money is an issue, find a fun activity everyone can enjoy at home. Get in the kitchen and bake. Everyone likes cookies! This gives you an opportunity to spend time together and teach life skills at the same time,  plus you get to reap the rewards....or in this case....eat them!

Start small. If your child isn't into hanging out with you,  don't push the issue,  but let them know you still care. Don't make them or yourself uncomfortable. Eventually,  they'll warm up to the idea and to you!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making Choices

Watching Izaak's medical bills pile up has become overwhelming. I rejoined the working world this past August... when I knew we would need money the most. But a prayer was answered when we were told our medical bills would be paid in full through a program at our local children's hospital for Izaak's visit last April. My joy soon turned to disappointment after receiving news that our insurance is declining to pay for further doctor visits... which we have every couple of months to monitor his growth and development. I've since had to cancel appointments, second guessing if we're doing the right thing.

Izaak is 17 months old now and is just now saying words beyond "Momma" and "Da da". He has yet to take his first steps. He has been cruising our kitchen, bathrooms, and living room. I just feel he will do things in his own time and have decided if he's not walking by his 18 month check-up, we may be forced to consider therapy.

Surely he isn't the first to be a late bloomer! Still holding out hope....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Raising Daisies

Raising children is by far the toughest job any parent can have. We are responsible for teaching another person manners, responsibility, how to treat others, and the list goes on.
I must say that raising girls has proved to be a challenge. On top of teaching the previously mentioned, teaching girls the basic skills of being a wife and a mother is important, too. But the following article sums up some pretty important things to teach our girls!
I've been forced to think of the times I've gossiped on the phone and said not so nice things about about people....not realizing my girls are watching....and learning!

So...the best advice: Be aware of yourself! I know I'll be more careful with my words!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Izaak's Story: Baby Steps

If you have read our previous blog...and a few tweets in between, I'm excited to tell you that our son is HEALTHY!! If you're a new to our blog, here's a little back story....
At the end of March, I became concerned that my son was able to wear clothing intended for a 3 month old while nearing his 10th month. A close friend of mine suggested that we begin feeding him formula to "fatten" him up. After not seeing any changes, we took our son to the pediatrician. Within days, our son was admitted into into Children's Hospital. In a nutshell...our son stopped growing. All sorts of test were performed and nothing could explain his lack of growth. He has puzzled so many doctors and specialist; however check-up after check-up, test continue to come back negative and our son is well on his way to "Toddlerhood".
As of June 8th (his Daddy's birthday), our son now crawls, has 3 teeth coming in, started using a sippy cup on a whim, and has learned to use (baby) sign language. Watching him improve day by day has filled my heart with warm fuzzies! At times, I have worried that he's falling behind his peers. I've watched friend's post about their babies walking and saying a list of words a mile long....but I know he's just our little man on his own journey to greatness. He WILL grow in his own time and as long as he's healthy....I'm o.k. with that!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Failure to Thrive: Izaak's Story

If you're a mom, the moment one of your children is hospitalized, you instantly go into a tizzy! Here's our story.... At our son's 6 month check-up, everything appeared to be ok. Although our son is on the small side (for his age), he continued to thrive.....that is until his next check-up. On March 25th, we learned that our son had not grown in a 4 month span of time. Not only had he not gained weight, but he had also stopped growing in length and his little head had stopped growing as well. My heart sank and I felt like I had done something wrong!

A month prior, I noticed that our son wasn't his normal, happy self. He seemed a little fussier than normal. I also made a note about how skinny he was. I didn't put too much stock into either as he is our third baby and his older sister was always on the petite side. While at a friend's house, who is also a mom, I mentioned that I was a little concerned. She merely suggested that I start giving him formula to "plump" him up....and to see if a fuller belly would ease his fussiness. So....I did just that. Our son slept better and was happier throughout the day (although he's generally a very happy baby). To me....he was seemingly better.

After learning that Izaak had not grown, his doctors placed him on a strict 24 calorie, formula diet. By adding extra calories to his diet, we had hoped to see a change in his weight. After a week, there was no change. So on April 3rd, we were asked to take our son to Children's Hospital.

Our first couple of nights at the hospital were quiet. By our third day, a team of doctors began looking our son over, trying to figure out why he wasn't growing. While "failure to thrive" is common, Izaak's case was not so common.....and not as easy to diagnose. For 7 days, Izaak underwent blood test, genetic testing, had an MRI to look at his pituitary gland, had bone scans, and was tested for Cystic Fibrosis. He also continued his formula diet and was fed every four hours around the clock. Neither of us had seen 2 am in a while....but we pushed through the challenge. After exhausting all lab work that could be done, we were finally sent home....and although we were happy to be going home....we still had no answers. Not knowing has a way of making your worry. Had we done all that we could? Is our son healthy? Where do we go from here?

Since being home, I've continued with his diet. And although I have been instructed to discontinue breastfeeding, I have made sure that Izaak is eating his fruits and vegetables. We have made some headway....as he has now gained 1-2 pounds and has grown about an inch!!! We still aren't 100% sure why he stopped growing, but we hope to learn why over the next couple of months with continued treatment and follow-up testing.